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Tropical Storm Isaias' Forecast Track Shifts East But Still In Florida's Sights

What is now Tropical Storm Isaias is now lashing Puerto Rico with heavy rain and strong winds as it continues on an as-yet uncertain path toward Florida.

The ninth storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season formed late Wednesday night.

Tropical storm warnings remain in effect for Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and other Caribbean islands as Isaias has become better organized, according to the National Hurricane Center. Some models suggest it’s showing signs that it could approach hurricane strength as it approaches the U.S.

As of Thursday at 8 a.m., Isaias was located about 125 miles west of Ponce, Puerto Rico, and moving northwest at 20 mph, according to the hurricane center. Maximum sustained winds have climbed to 60 mph with higher gusts.

Isaias is forecast to move more slowly once landfall in the Dominican Republic later Thursday, and could weaken temporarily as it encounters the mountainous lands of Hispaniola.

It could bring around 4-8 inches of rain to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, with isolated totals of 8-10 inches that could cause life-threatening floods and mudslides, forecasters said.

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But forecasters say it could re-intensify on Friday as it approaches the Bahamas, and this weekend on a path toward Florida and the southeastern U.S.

How it will impact Florida, however, still remains to be seen.

Forecast tracks from the National Hurricane Center have continued to shift the track slightly to the east since Wednesday, and the 8 a.m. track continues to take the center of the storm even further east, clipping southeast Florida while skirting the Carolinas and moving north – but with nearly all areas east of the Panhandle still within the cone of uncertainty.

“Overall, most track models have shifted east and are now favoring Isaias either over the peninsula or even just offshore in the Atlantic this weekend," said Ray Hawthorne, meteorologist with the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network. “More adjustments are likely, but for now, increasing seas and squally weather are becoming more likely especially over the Peninsula some time Saturday.”

Forecasters with the National Weather Service suggest the prognosis will become more clear once the storm passes Hispaniola. The greater Tampa Bay region could experience dry conditions this weekend if the easterly track over the island continues, but tropical storm conditions if the center shifts west.

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